Penny slammed the door shut, turned the key and took cover behind some piles of tires where Howard, also masked, kept her company. They heard cursing, cries of pain and a sound as if a door was violently opened. A bang on the exit door. Cursing. Wailing. Screaming. Another bang. Another wail. Several shots. The exit door was thrown open and Pete stumbled out. Clutching his eyes he bent over and threw up.
His brother didn’t emerge and the sounds coming from the RV didn’t make his appearance likely. Penny feared that the zombie that was obviously inside was Nigella or Bill. She nodded at Howard and the two of them rose. Pete was coughing his longs out and his shirt was turning red at the waist. Before Pete knew what happened to him, Howard had tied his hands behind his back. The man was in no condition to fight, but Howard took no risks and he walked some twenty feet away from him.
Penny entered the RV and saw a ginger haired male zombie that was relishing Hank’s meat. Hank no longer made a sound and he didn’t move either. The zombie briefly looked up at Penny closing the door and then continued to eat. Penny went through the RV and to her relief there were neither zombies nor men. A double bed had a huge blood stain on its mattress and some other stains as well.
When after a few minutes Pete stopped coughing, Howard removed his mask.
‘Where are you?’ Pete demanded with difficulty. ‘Let me fight you! You fucking bitch!’
‘Someone watched Kill Bill. Great film.’
Pete looked up and Howard silently moved closer. Pete, his eyes still tearing, focused on the spot from where he’d heard Howard’s voice.
‘Come close if you dare,’ Pete said, ‘and I’ll kill you.’
Howard remained silent. Pete spat toward where Howard used to stand. Some blood came along.
Lydia placed her hand on Wyatt’s leg to alert him. Wyatt looked up from a book he wasn’t reading to see Daniel approach. The guard looked as if he had something of importance to communicate.
‘Robin just came in,’ he announced when he’d reached the sitting area.
Lydia looked at Wyatt for an explanation.
‘Pigeon,’ her partner softly said.
‘And he brought the best of news,’ Daniel said with a bright smile but without elaborating.
‘So they’re all right?’ Wyatt guessed after a moment of silence.
Lydia smiled. ‘Told you so.’
‘What happened? Was there an attack? What about the RV?’
‘Robin’s message didn’t say that. I hope the vehicle’s all right sir. It would be great if I’m the lucky one to live in it.’
Lydia smiled at Daniel. ‘Will they be back now?’ she asked.
Wyatt shook his head. ‘They’ll spend the night there, just in case.’
When Daniel had returned to duty, Lydia asked Wyatt whether the new RV would be Daniel and Melody’s home. Wyatt shrugged. Lydia then wondered aloud that since all was well, it might be best for Randall to return home. ‘With Leslie giving birth any moment now…’
Wyatt grinned. ‘The way she gives birth, he might be working in the garage and still be too late to see the child being born.’
‘Seems a bit overdone staying here,’ Sharon said. She and Missy were taking the first sleep shift. ‘I know it isn’t, but after how smoothly things went… You know.’
‘I’m glad for the zombie in the RV,’ Missy said. ‘Both men would have been captured and - ’
‘Killed,’ Sharon interrupted.
‘We don’t do that and you know that. They’d be captured and dropped somewhere with water, food and a bat.’
‘A creep like Pete is likely to survive that and return with a thirst for revenge.’
Missy yawned. ‘Yeah. One eaten and one bitten is better for us.’
It was silent for a moment.
‘I’m looking forward to the fair,’ Sharon changed the topic.
‘So am I.’
‘I hope there’ll be nice men coming along. I like the idea of extending the wall, but I’d expected Penny would have chosen to secure the road to the Torsvik farm first,’ Sharon said meaningfully.
‘There are only five single men there, and one’s over sixty.’
‘You talk like a married woman! To me you just mentioned four reasons to walk over there. I’m glad Melody ended up with my brother. He’s not in my marriage pool and I’ve got one competitor less.’
Missy laughed at Sharon’s straightforwardness.
‘Did you know that Daniel and dad suggested that I’d share a room with our Sarah so the boys could have Rebecca’s room and Daniel and Melody could live in the boys’ room? Fortunately Melody said no. She was really pissed at Daniel. You think Tom and Maud are an item?’
‘What? No, I don’t.’ Despite being tired Missy added: ‘Why, are you interested in Tom?’
‘Hello! With the British accent and all! But I flirted with him: nothing. I think he lives like a monk. You think he’s gay?’
Sharon giggled. Missy drifted away and heard nothing of Sharon’s comments about Alonso and the under-sixty Torsvik men.
Penny and Howard quietly sat near Pete, who’d been carried to house zero’s hall. With intervals that grew increasingly longer he would moan a bit. Penny wondered where and when the man thought he was.
‘What are you hoping for?’ Howard whispered.
‘For him to die and turn, just like Hank did.’
Howard made a throatily sound of agreement. After a while he casually said: ‘When you came out, when Wyatt was there, you’d seen something.’
‘I found some hand puppets,’ Penny said, shaking her head at the recollection. ‘I put Judy on my left hand and retold your joke about the frog and the three wishes. I used your mum’s voice for Sally.’
Howard smiled broadly.
‘No,’ Penny said after a quick glance at her friend. ‘It was silly. What was I thinking? What if they’d… Obviously they didn’t. Attack me.’
‘Why would they do that? Did you forget the clue?’
Penny smirked. ‘I was halfway the first wish when I noticed a child-zombie. It stared at the puppet as if… as if it recalled puppet shows. I stopped talking immediately and put Judy in the cart. The little zombie followed me for a while.’
Penny didn’t say that she’d briefly felt the urge to take the zombie-child by the hand. Tossing it a cuddle had been enough to stop it from stalking her.
‘That must have been… alienating.’
‘If this bastard doesn’t die,’ Howard said, ‘we’ll have to deal with a dangerous man.’
‘Sheldon thinks it might be x-chrome related.’
‘What if one is enough? What if he attempts to attack us?’
Penny shrugged. ‘I doubt that he won’t turn.’
‘You’re like Buffy waiting near a new grave.’
‘Indeed Giles. Except I’ll skip the fancy kicks.’
‘Thank you milady.’
‘What for good sir?’
‘Not styling me Xander.’
‘I liked Xander. He was witty and down-to-earth.’
‘That he was.’
Pete’s body started to shiver. Penny drew her screw-driver.
‘You don’t need a Giles Penelope,’ Howard softly said.
‘We all need one.’
In August 2010 Wyatt Drottning had a look at the set of rules Sheldon had sent him:
‘The rules they’d sent us from Pasadena were written in lawyer language and not everything was unclear, but a lot of it was. Cynthia had a university degree and she translated the rules for us. She agreed with Sheldon’s accompanying letter about executing the rules straight from the start. My wife was keen to have the non-smoking rule installed and I was okay with that. I mean: it wouldn’t take long before we’d run out of cigarettes anyway. Only people guarding carrying guns: sure. People having to work, well that was logical, I mean we didn’t run a hotel but using schedules seemed overdone, so we skipped that and much more.’ (interview MC, 2011-11b)
‘After Tom’s arrival [in October 2010, CB] some more rules were installed,’ says Melissa (Missy) Cooper. ‘24/7 guarding and food rationing. In December my twin and his friends arrived, and soon all of their rules were being executed. I feel that we became a real community then. The thing is that when you have rules, people are going to break them.’ (interview CB, 2011-3)
The charter set up by Sheldon Cooper, Rajesh Koothrappali, Howard Wolowitz, Leonard Hofstadter and Penelope Drottning consisted of nine pages.
‘When I tell strangers about our rules I give a summary,’ says Howard. ‘It’s basically what people were used to, with some extra stuff. No killing, raping, stealing, hurting, bullying. Work for your living, in designated jobs. No weapons. No smoking, no drinking, no loud noises. No religion in public, no profitmaking. Mandatory education.’ (interview CB, 2011-12)
‘Back in Pasadena we talked about what to do if people were to break rules,’ recalls Penny. ‘We didn’t want to jail them, for several reasons: We would have to spend resources on making a jail. Those jailed wouldn’t be able to contribute to the community. And last but not least: my brother spent time in jail, for drunken driving, speeding, dealing meth, and it never improved him. In fact he was persuaded to get involved in drugs by a fellow jail-bird. So no jail.’ (interview CB, 2011-5)
‘Penny suggested a jury, but I convinced her that that wouldn’t do,’ says Sheldon Cooper. ‘When you break your arm, you’re not going to have it set by a layman, so why rely on laymen when it comes to something as important as law and order?’ (interview CB, 2012-5)
‘The rules aren’t rigid. Murder is punishable by banishment, but not ‘punished by banishment’, so if you were to kill an attacker and the investigator finds proof of or is convinced that you were defending your own life, you will remain a member of the community. And if you steal food, but you just spent years living out there, never having enough to eat, then the judges will take that into account. When it comes to children misbehaving we let the police officer handle things, with a report made for the record.’ (interview with Cynthia Böhr, MC, 2012-9)
‘The hardest punishment would be to kick an offender out,’ says Leslie Winkle who joined the Pasadena discussions on the topic of regulation. ‘That could mean sending someone to his death. You can’t deny that, so you have to make sure that you’re not making a mistake. Other than kicking someone out, points can be distracted and most of all, in a small community everyone would know what an offender did. For most people losing the respect of your peers sucks.’ (interview CB, 2012-3)
Where in Pasadena people had thought of rules for the members of the future community, in 2013 the first rules regarding behaviour toward those outside the community were noted down.
‘After the second attack on the farm, in March 2013, Cynthia, as a judge, initiated a law-meeting,’ Penny Drottning recalls. ‘We’d never behaved aggressively towards others, but while defending our community we aimed to kill. Cynthia suggested some rules of war law, and Tom and I told her about our unwritten ‘rules of conduct’ during scavenging missions. I think Cynthia was relieved to learn about those rules of ours and she suggested to officially apply them in case the community at large was under attack. I liked it. In the heat of the battle acts of mercy may be forgotten. Having someone remind you of a law everyone signed instead of just saying: ‘It isn’t right!’, may just keep you human. (interview MC, 2014-1)
(Extract from chapter Law & order, From The history of Drottningville, by Cynthia Böhr, first edition July 2030 CE)